Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention




A downloadable version of this guide, the student writing prompt, rubrics and student handout are attached at the bottom of the article


Lesson Title: Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention


Brief Summary: Students will be given basic information about substance abuse, alcohol, legal drugs, and illegal substances.  Students will also learn the effects substance use has on the developing brain. The lesson will cover vaping, alcohol, marijuana, opioids/fentanyl, prescription, and OTC drugs. Students will also learn about the science of drug addiction.  


PLEASE NOTE: It is typical for adolescents to have mood swings and strong emotional responses on occasion. However, if changes in mood or behaviors are impairing a student’s ability to function academically or socially, please contact the school counselor or district Mental Health Professional.


Response Guidelines

If a student asks a question or shares information that you don’t have the answers to or know how to respond to, take the following steps:

   1. Stay calm.

   2. Validate what the student said and how brave they were to share.

   3. Let them know that you want to help in any way possible while protecting their privacy.

   4. If the response indicates an emergency, get help immediately.

   5. If the response does not indicate an emergency, get help as soon as class is over.


Lesson Objectives

  1. Students will be able to define and explain the risks of vaping, marijuana, opioid, prescription drug misuse, alcohol consumption and drug addiction.
  2. Students will learn the physical effects on the human body for each type of drug discussed.
  3. Students will be able to identify specific issues and health concerns associated with the use of each type of drug discussed.


Shared vocabulary:

  1. Vaping is the action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.
  2. Marijuana is from the cannabis plant, also known as weed and pot. It can be smoked or consumed as an edible treat, often in formats appealing to youth such as gummies and brownies.
  3. Opioids are a compound resembling opium in addictive properties or physiological effects.  Heroin is the most commonly known opioid.
  4. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.  It is a prescription drug for pain management that is also used illegally.
  5. Prescription drug misuse is when someone takes a medication inappropriately. This can be taking too much of a drug prescribed to them or taking a drug that was prescribed to someone else. 
  6. Drug addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.


Key Takeaways:

  1. Vaping may seem healthier than smoking cigarettes to youth but is actually harmful to one’s health as evidenced by links to recent deaths.
  2. Drug use impacts the growth and development of the brain so it can be particularly impactful to youth as their brains are not yet fully developed until early adulthood.
  3. The impact on one’s physical health and also emotional/behavioral response to substances varies widely depending upon the drug taken.


Upon completion of viewing online content:


Teachers: Please have students complete the activity on the following page. As we connect today’s lesson to our curriculum, please use the appropriate grade-level rubric to assess your students. 


Continue the Conversation:

  1. The connectivity between thinking-feeling-doing: How can we connect what we think about the content we just reviewed to how we are feeling? What actions can you take to apply this information in a meaningful way?
  2. Self, Others, World: How can you use the information you learned in this lesson to help yourself? To help your friends and family? To help other people with mental illnesses?
  3. Substance Abuse Prevention is about awareness: What awareness did today’s content bring about in you? Identify some actions or behaviors you may be able to replace with healthier options. 


Additional activities/resources/suggested reading:










Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention



Question: Discuss the dangers of vaping. 


Grading rubrics for all grades are attached at the bottom.

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